Shuizhuyu Sichuan-Style Fish Hot Pot: Food Generated Ecstasy

By Mark Wiens 21 Comments
水煮魚
Chinese Style Fish and Rice 水煮魚

There are some restaurants you know you deeply love before you ever taste their food.

Maybe it’s the crowd of people eating there, the delicious aromas that fill the air, or sometimes it’s just a completely unexplainable feeling that just feels right.

In Yangshuo, China, this was one of those – it just felt right.

It was the type of restaurant that flung me into a food high from the moment I stepped in.

I was left paralyzed as I waited for the food to arrive.

I couldn’t talk or even do anything but think about the food.

Chinese Cold Tea
Drinking Cold Tea in China

At many restaurants in Guangxi Province you are given a dining set and then you are supposed to wash your dishes with cold tea to cleanse them (before eating).

I did the washing routine and then sat back, sipping on cold tea and waiting for the main dish to arrive.

Chinese Sichuan Fish Pot
Chinese Sichuan Fish Pot

We ordered a Sichuan inspired chili filled fish dish known as Shǔizhǔyú (水煮魚) – pronounced Shu Joo Yoo.

Our fish arrived to the tabe in pure splendor, a giant pan of thinly sliced fish drowned in an alluring medley of colorful ingredients and fragrant herbs.

Shǔizhǔyú (水煮魚)
Shǔizhǔyú (水煮魚)

A common meal speciality in Guangxi Province is a big pan full of the dish of your choice served over an individual stove burner on your table.

Everyone gets individual bowls of rice and then picks bites out of the communal dish with chopsticks. I’ve been a die hard fan of giant pans of food for quite some time now!

In Guangxi Province, first the meat/fish is eaten, then a combination of raw vegetables or tofu are cooked in the remaining soup broth.

Spoon Full of Deliciousness
Spoon Full of Deliciousness

A scoop of fish and chili soup was mouthwatering delicious.

Bowl of Sichuan Style Fish and Rice
Bowl of Sichuan Style Fish and Rice

The fish was firm but flaky and the soup bursted with an irresistible vibrancy.

Though it was eaten in Guangxi Province, it had been influenced by the gastronomic wonders of the neighboring province of Sichuan.

At the bottom of the chili soup was a bed of bean sprouts. They weren’t those fat short kind of bean sprouts, but the long and thin sprouts – almost like noodles.

The base of the soup was defined by flavorful red chilies along with pungent Sichuan peppercorns, ginger and chives.

Another bowl of Fish and Rice
Another bowl of Fish and Rice

Every single bite was everything I had hoped for, and soon I fell into a deep culinary stupor – the kind of food I would spend the rest of my money on.

Chinese Food
Adding Lettuce to the Pan

After polishing off the fish from the boiling pan, the next step was to add the other ingredients and use the flavorful soup to simmer them in.

First we added a plate full of lettuce. It did a fantastic job of soaking up the flavor but still retaining that crisp lettuce texture (Have you ever eaten cooked lettuce?).

Silky Fresh Tofu
Silky Fresh Tofu

I’m a huge fanatic of the tofu in China. Freshly made tofu is world’s above anything that is ever packaged. The fresh tofu is silky and smooth, none of that rubbery packaged stuff.

The tofu bubbled in the fish chili soup for a few minutes before it became even softer and turned to that fantastic fall apart consistency – it was excellent!

21 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Andy

    7 years ago

    You should totally visit Sichuan, you’ll love the food 🙂
    If you visit Sichuan, you should definitely try the Sichuan style hot pot, which is a boiling pot of very red liquid with lots of spicy red chili oil on top. It is so spicy that even the local people think it is very spicy.

  • Eugene

    7 years ago

    Omg… that looks DELICIOUS!!! I will be living in the southwest provinces of China (Gangsu, Guizhou, Sichuan) for the next two years. Do you have any other suggestions in those areas?

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Eugene, I wish I had more suggestions, but I haven’t spent much time in China yet. Hope you enjoy!

  • Jane

    8 years ago

    Hi Mark,

    Can I get the name of the restaurant and directions which you went to have this Shuizhuyu?

    Jane

  • Fui

    9 years ago

    Mark,

    I can see that you are truely a food funatic now :-). Do you know not many is up for a challenge on Shǔizhǔyú? It is a Sichuan dish while you are having it, the chilli should burn your lips.

    If you ever visit Sichuan province, the Shǔizhǔyú is cooked with a full chilli paste soup (bloody red in colour). On top of the soup, the full pot should be covered by a layer of chilli oil and the fish is sunk at the bottom. This is to keep the soup temperature hot at all times. That actually increase the chances of the chilli being so spicy and hot, it burns your lips as you eat. A very exciting thing to do in winter time.

    One trick to eat it, when we pick the fish up through the chilli oil, is to put it on the rice, let the oil soak to the rice and eat the fish meat.

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      This is an awesome description Fui – thanks so much for sharing it! Shuizhuyu is probably one of my favorite dishes I’ve ever eaten, and I haven’t even yet been to Sichuan. After reading what you just said it makes me want to go to Sichuan right now – just to eat. I love those burning peppercorns and chilies!

  • [email protected]

    9 years ago

    If I ever make it to Guangxi Province, after scoring accomodation, I’m going right for that hot pot. I’ve had Japanese Shabu Shabu and Chinese hot pot in Chinatown but never have I tried:

    “thinly sliced fish drowned in an alluring medley of colorful ingredients and fragrant herbs”

    On top of the incredible presentation, smell and taste, the dish(es) look therapeutic. You must have felt fantastic after eating it. Great post!

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Ah Thanks Mike!
      Apart from the oil, I think this dish was pretty healthy – and yes, all the herbs , chilies, spices and peppercorns really made it go down nicely. Each bite was a burning throat tingling sensation of therapy. Even though I have a lot of favorite foods, this dish really is one of the tops things I’ve eaten. If you get to Yangshuo, let me know!

  • Marvs

    9 years ago

    The food looks so deliciously and I believe they’re spicy hot coz of all the chillies but surely I will like them since I love spicy food.

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Thanks Marvs, it was nice and spicy, but it was sooo delicious!

  • Laura

    10 years ago

    I LOVE Hong Kong style hot pot, and this looks pretty awesome too.

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Awesome to hear that Laura. I don’t think that I’ve ever had a hotpot in HK, gotta try it next time!

  • Turkey’s For Life

    10 years ago

    Great photos. All the food looks so tempting. Think I’f work my way through all of that quite nicely! 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Thanks! China is a fantastic place to eat through!

  • Maria

    10 years ago

    How is it that I ate within the last hour, was stuffed and now am hungry?

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Haha, this fish dish is worth eating even when you’re stuffed!!!